President, Hurlbut Care Communities
Years in current role: 31
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The enjoyment I get from my role as president of Hurlbut Care Communities comes from taking care of the elderly. I’ve always felt that we in the United States don’t treat our aging population with the same respect as other cultures. The contributions this generation has made to our society, and all that they have endured; I just really feel that they deserve the very best care in their community, when they need it. Overseeing 13 homes, employing over 1,400 staff, and knowing that seniors will be well taken care of in our facilities. That really what it’s all about for me.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?
The biggest challenge was, and is, the pandemic and how it was handled. The nursing home industry was unfairly vilified by politicians and the media. Having said that, during the second wave of COVID-19 in 2020 we partnered with the University of Rochester Medical system, and my staff helped to save over 160 residents that we took directly from the hospitals, assisted living facilities, and home. These residents are alive today because of the care that we provided in our nursing homes.
What do you see as the biggest changes in the health care industry in the next 3-5 years?
I really hope that it’s funding, legislation, and employment incentives. The nursing home industry has not seen a Medicaid rate increase in the past 14 years. The fact that we have to go to court to stop the NYSDOH, and the governor from reducing our Medicaid rates is a perplexing problem. These governing bodies need to increase the Medicaid rates to our state’s nursing homes. Since taking office, the governor has reduced payments to New York State skilled nursing facilities by $1.8 billion. We are dealing with increased unfunded mandates that have nothing to do with caring for the elderly, and our industry is 40,000 health care workers short. The growing aging population in our state needs to be positively addressed. Now and in the future, nursing facilities will be needed more than ever.
What community organizations do you support as a volunteer and why?
I’ve always felt strongly that a person should give back to their community. I’m on the board for Strong Memorial Hospital as well as the Memorial Art Gallery and the Monroe County Water Authority. I am the current president for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Foundation as well. I thoroughly enjoy learning more about what these organizations do, what it takes to run them, and how they serve our community.
What are you most looking forward to doing as COVID restrictions ease?
I’m most looking forward to seeing our residents get back to normal. Whether it be unrestricted family visits, or group activities and outings. The other thing I’m most looking forward to is ending the time-wasting state and federal surveys that eat up staff time which takes away from our residents.